Iceland minister dismisses Ireland’s call for sanctions amid mackerel war

An Icelandic official has said that Ireland’s call for sanctions against Iceland was “propaganda” amid rising tensions over mackerel fishing.

Steingrimur Sigfusson, Iceland’s minister of agriculture and fisheries, said in an interview with the AFP, “Essentially it’s propaganda”, in response to the republic’s pleas to the EU to stop Iceland from taking a “disproportionate” share of the mackerel in the North Atlantic.

The news comes after Irish officials received support from Portugal, Spain and France in its request to the European Commission last week to consider the possibility of trade measures against Iceland.

Iceland has admitted taking a larger amount of mackerel from the region’s waters in recent years, but said that the practice is justified because the fish are lingering in its waters for longer periods of the summer and in larger numbers. However, the Republic of Ireland says that it is taking a major toll on its largest fishing harvest.

Speaking to EU officials on Tuesday, Sigfusson said, “the mackerel eats and grows in Icelandic waters and thus takes away from other fish. We will not succumb to pressure and will stand our ground.” He added, “We require a reasonable share in the stock and that is something we cannot negotiate away.”

The comments come two months ahead of talks between European officials, Iceland, Norway and the Faroe Islands to re-establish fishing quotas in the region.